Hannah Quick, solicitor, Cartridge’s Law
'A common statement from friends and family has been 'it must be nice working from home' and in an "ordinary" world I would imagine it would be. Another phrase I hear a lot is that we are living in "unprecedented times".
As a newly qualified solicitor, I was not trained for "unprecedented times". While I was given the knowledge and gained experience during my training, I was not prepared for working completely on my own - at my makeshift desk I built at home.
At first, I found myself feeling stressed and frustrated - asking: "am I really going to be able to work like this for the foreseeable future?". However, it quickly became apparent that everyone is in the same boat.
I found that sharing experiences made everything easier and I felt a sense of teamwork. While matters have to progress, it seemed systems and people were more forgiving.
What have I learnt? To be adaptable, to communicate effectively in various ways, to be out of my comfort zone but know that sometimes that is okay. Everyone is in this together and why would life be chaos free when we have a worldwide pandemic on our hands?'
Jonathan Metliss, chairman of Axiom Stone Solicitors and chairman of Action Against Discrimination
'I have been in splendid isolation for five weeks now at our family home on the south coast. Of course, it has been hard, and the lack of physical communication and engagement is difficult. From a personal point of view, my elder daughter gave birth to a baby girl on 3 April and, sadly, I have not had the opportunity to either see or touch her. But that day will come, hopefully very soon.
The lockdown has given me a rare opportunity to reflect on life.
There are indeed some positives to come out of this. Normally, I am rushing around, both socially and business wise, running from meeting to meeting with no time to relax or contemplate. I am always under some form of pressure. Now, the chaos of life has receded and I have had a chance to think and consider the priorities of my life.
Fortunately, with the good weather I have watched nature at work with spring evolving and listened to the sounds of the birds. I have also had an opportunity to rekindle old personal relationships and I have been in regular contact with old friends and members of my extended family from overseas. We have been reliving our wonderful experiences from those times, including all our sports memories.
And I have even managed to make new friends, in particular from the local Worthing Jewish community, from zooming in to Sussex Friends of Israel talks and discussions over the Internet.
I have been reading at great length, especially pieces on Jewish custom, law and tradition, which I had been unable to do previously and which has given me an inner feeling, and stronger foundation, to the values of my life.
So, thinking about priorities in life, I believe these must change. We must become more caring and show greater compassion, mutual support, kindness, camaraderie, humility and modesty, with less bling and superficiality. On the business front, I have been discussing with colleagues at Axiom Stone how best to preserve existing relationships, sustain the goodwill of both clients and staff and looking to a future which will embody these better values.
I have just been watching the recent Holocaust Memorial Day event which has put life into the proper context and reaffirmed the true values of life.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi, has expressed, the hope that we emerge from this experience with an enhanced sense of "we"– the we of global human solidarity; of national identity; of humility; in acts of kindness; and of hope.
I very much look forward to better times returning, with, hopefully, better values and priorities.
Mark Gudgeon, commercial dispute resolution, Harper James Solicitors, London
'As a solicitor, working in lockdown definitely throws up some challenges. But luckily, for me, my company encourages home-working so I have been doing it for a year which has given me a bit of a head-start on how to cope. Overall I have found it more productive and beneficial than working in an office. Yes, there is less face-to-face social interaction. However, video and phone interaction can be more effective, and filling your non-work hours with time with family and friends can easily fill the void.
My key piece of advice is to have a designated space to work in. I am fortunate and have converted a section of my garage into a comfortable office space. Make sure you have the right IT. You cannot just work from a laptop if you are regularly looking at documents – have at least one monitor attached to your laptop so that you have enough screens. Try and work to fixed hours and be disciplined about when you start and finish. Yes, you will check emails outside of those hours, but only work outside them if you need to, just as you would in an office environment.
Get dressed for work. That does not necessarily mean wearing a suit, but make sure that when you start work you are comfortable and ready to get a full day of work in.
Do not get lost in the work. That can happen when you are working in virtual silence and without distraction. Remember that there are lots of priorities and see the bigger picture. For example, do not forget that you have business development, as well as less exciting tasks such as admin etc. to do.
Try not to always say yes or no. Working from home can mean less external supervision of your work which means that you need to be objective, and much more in control, about how busy you are; you might feel really busy and refuse work, but can you not plan that work into your schedule later on? Saying no to work now might leave you short later. Equally, always saying yes may be a rocky road to working all day every day and without anyone knowing and so able to help you out!
We have had team calls to discuss our experiences during Covid-19 and generally catch up. There has also been a more conscious effort to share knowledge throughout the team and make sure that, for example, we are all updated on the court procedures/practices.
And we have actually taken the time to learn more about our specialist areas and as a result we have actually referred/diverted more work to each other than we would normally do, which means the clients get the best possible service.'
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.